I consider it possible that this discussion is too much about words, or too technical, to be very important. But anything that drives the real definition of grace home for modern Christians, very few of whom know what grace means, is pretty crucial.
Grace is the power of God that enables you to … well, just about anything. Grace is used to describe the power behind spiritual gifts (1 Pet. 4:10-11), serving God acceptably (Heb. 12:28), help in time of need (Heb. 4:16), and resisting sin (Rom. 6:14).
Grace is not mercy. Mercy is God choosing not to punish sin or giving us something we don’t deserve. Grace is power. Grace teaches us not to sin (Tit. 2:11-12).
So grace, obviously, is this incredibly wonderful thing that all of us should want. Grace not only provides salvation, for all intents and purposes it is salvation.
How do we get grace? By faith:
By [our Lord Jesus Christ] we have access by faith to this grace in which we stand. (Rom. 5:2)
Ephesians 2:8 says it similarly:
For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)
The gift of God mentioned here, by the way, really has to be a reference to salvation in general. In Greek, as in most languages except English, the gender of a word like “that” (as in “and that not of yourselves”) matters. Grace is feminine, faith is masculine, and “that” is neuter. So “that,” which is not of ourselves but is the gift of God, cannot be grace or faith. That really only leaves the possibility of a general reference to salvation.
Either way, Scripturally faith gives us access to grace, and grace is really, really incredible.
A Little Rejoicing in Grace To Cap Us Off
That’s why Ephesians 2:8-9 leads naturally into Ephesians 2:10:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to go good works.
Another great description of just how great grace is can be found in 2 Peter 1:3-4 …
His divine power [which the apostles like to call “grace”] has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue. Though this we are given exceptionally great and precious promises, that by them you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Okay, one more; a favorite of mine, though not from the Scriptures:
O trumpet of peace to the soul that is at war!
O weapon that puts to flight terrible passions!
O instruction that quenches the innate fire of the soul!
The Word exercises an influence which does not make poets;
It does not equip philosophers nor skilled orators,
But by its instruction it makes mortals immortal, mortals gods
And from the earth transports them to the realms above Olympus.
I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about why the early Christians regularly say that we’re to become gods. It’s stunning to find out such terminology was common in the apostolic churches, but once you find out why then you can get your breath back.